Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford has decided not to prosecute the Charlottesville Albemarle Transportation Coalition (CATCO).
The group came under scrutiny for running ads last fall against the Route 29 Western Bypass that also urged the defeat of two members of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.
The ads showed that they were being sponsored by the Bypass Truth Coalition - a fictitious name for CATCO.
In a seven-page letter, Lunford lays out her reasoning. She found that CATCO violated the Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act by not filing a particular report. That report would have disclosed CATCO's name as funding the ad and identified which candidates it advocated for or against. But Lunsford says she will not prosecute because the mishap was not intentional.
"In my opinion, the commonwealth cannot prove that the violation was willful. In other words, can't prove that there was a bad purpose or that there was a an intent with no reasonable belief that the coalition’s position was wrong," said Lunsford.
Lunsford has asked the electoral board to send a notice that requires CATCO to file the paperwork in 60 days. If the electoral board sends the notice and CATCO doesn't file in time, then there is a presumption of willfulness. At that point, Lunsford says she may change her mind and decide to prosecute.
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